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Exploring Yosemite with Kids

Known for its stunning waterfalls and iconic rock formations El Capitan and Half Dome, Yosemite National Park also boasts a reputation as an ideal national park to explore with kids. From one-mile, stroller-friendly loop trails to more challenging hikes for older kids or experienced hiking families, Yosemite offers ample opportunities for parents and children to enjoy the wonders of nature.

We have a wide variety of excellent guided tours out of both lodges. For those who prefer to explore on their own, our Recreation Desks are a great place to start to get free expert advice from a local on the best routes, locations, and activities for your family’s interests. It’s one of the reasons why people call us your backstage pass to Yosemite!

Visit the Tuolumne or Merced Groves of Giant Sequoias just minutes from our lodges. Bridalveil is still closed for renovations but is expected to reopen in Spring 2023 with many exciting improvements, making it easier for more people of all ages and abilities to enjoy the total experience. You can also find daily activities for kids and families during your stay at either of our properties, Rush Creek Lodge and Evergreen Lodge.

Is Yosemite child friendly?

Yes, Yosemite National Park is known for being child friendly and a wonderful national park for families. During your visit, your kids can earn a Yosemite Junior Ranger badge from an official park ranger by completing the activities in the free adventure handbook available at any of the visitor centers.

Can kids hike in Yosemite?

A father and son hiking a Yosemite valley.

Yes: Yosemite offers hiking options for kids of all ages and abilities. At just one mile and with paved portions, Lower Yosemite Falls is a great hike for young kids and is wheelchair and stroller accessible. The park includes longer 2- to 5-mile trails for older kids, and some of these, like the popular Mist Trail, get steep and strenuous.

Make sure you check the park’s hiking information to choose the trail best suited for you and your kids. See our list of the best day hikes in Yosemite.

What to bring to Yosemite with kids?

When traveling to Yosemite with kids, remember that temperatures may skyrocket into the 90s (℉) during summer days, yet almost always drop considerably at night no matter the season. Pack layers for these temperature fluctuations as well as lightweight, packable rain gear.

Water bottles are a must for staying hydrated, and parents benefit from a durable, roomy backpack for the inevitable carrying of the kids’ stuff as the day progresses.

Bring your baby carrier for hikes, even short ones. Sneakers work just fine for parents and kids conquering the trails. However, we recommend keeping the flip-flops at home. For any time of year, wear sunscreen and hats, and make sure to pack bug spray if you’re trekking in the late spring or summer.

Families should always bring a first aid kit and carry it with them for any activities in the park. See our What to Bring on a Day Hike in Yosemite guide and our Best Time of Year to Visit Yosemite guide for more information.

Explore Yosemite: Kid-Friendly Activities by Age Group

Whether you’re looking for short excursions suitable for tykes or longer adventures to engage grade-schoolers and tweens, you’ll find memory-making age-appropriate activities in and around Yosemite.

Toddler and Pre-K (Ages 1–5)

Family hiking near the Merced River in Yosemite.

Introduce your littles to some of the planet’s most magnificent trees in Tuolumne Grove, a forest of giant Sequoias. The Big Trees Loop Trail is 2.5 miles round trip long and paved, making it stroller- and wheelchair-accessible and doable for shorter legs. Tuolumne Grove also includes longer trails for parents hiking with kids in carriers.

Take a dip with your kids in the Merced River at Sentinel Beach or enjoy sandwiches and wading in the river at the Swinging Bridge.

Yosemite offers several day hikes of various lengths and difficulty for parents accustomed to hiking with toddlers in carriers and who want to spend the day outdoors.

You’ll also find plenty of fun activities for young kids and parents at Rush Creek and Evergreen lodges. Enjoy our one-of-a-kind nature playground, created by famed designer Ron Holthuysen, our 60-foot embankment slide, pools, games, and a tunnel built specifically for little explorers. We’ve developed our properties with hidden gems like these to offer family fun, inspired by the joy of being outside.

School-Aged Kids (Ages 6–12)

Kids playing cornhole at Evergreen Lodge in Yosemite.

If you’re traveling with kids aged 6–12, you can explore several trails under five miles long suitable for this age group.

An easy but beautiful hike, Tuolumne Meadows Trail meanders two miles along a flat meadow and passes Soda Springs, where carbonated water bubbles out of the ground. Tioga Road gets you there, and you can stop at both the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias and Merced Grove of Giant Sequoias along the way. Be aware that Tioga Road usually closes each winter from late October through late May, depending on snow conditions.

For more challenging hikes, take older kids on the Mist Trail or the Sentinel Dome Trail to show them the most iconic views in Yosemite.

The Valley Floor open tram tour is another popular family-friendly choice. This two-hour, open-air narrated ride takes you to Yosemite’s highlights, including El Capitan, Half Dome, Bridalveil Falls, and Yosemite Falls. Stop at the Visitors Center to gather supplies for the Junior Ranger program, then after completing your Junior Ranger tasks throughout your day’s adventures, end the day being sworn in by a real live Park Ranger before you return to the lodge.

While you stay at Rush Creek or Evergreen lodges, take advantage of all the school-aged kid activities we offer daily. From our swimming pools and nature crafts to our onsite zipline and disc golf course, you’ll discover endless opportunities to have fun with your family.

After you’ve filled your day with excitement at Yosemite or on our properties, let your entire family unwind with us around the campfire every night for s’mores. A peaceful night sky adorned in stars will close your day with the cozy serenity found only in nature. We’re happy to facilitate your visit to Yosemite with an unforgettable family-friendly vacation.

Learn more about our Yosemite National Park lodging options!